Each one of us is hopefully loving our neighbour, our colleague, our community, making a difference in the world, helping others to find themselves, and walking together to create a world of peace and justice. I hope I am one of them, loving as Jesus taught us to love. But I have been pulled up short recently with a caution –

This love is not Jesus’ love if all I am doing is drawing attention to my own goodness, aren’t I a good person, someone who needs affirmation, praise or simply to be loved back. The Moody Blues wrote a song called “Question” by Justin Hayward –  in which someone had a moment of self-discovery.

“And when you stop and think about it 
You won’t believe it’s true 
That all the love you’ve been giving 
Has all been meant for you.”

Jesus was thrilled to see others healed and restored, found and restored, and this is the only reward we need, to know our actions please God.

This love is not Jesus’ love if it is not sacrificial –  a mere gesture of kindness that costs nothing. However, when we put ourselves out of our comfort zone, give money we cannot afford and time we haven’t got, then we see Jesus both in the need of the other person and in the giving of ourselves. I have often used this wonderful picture by Sieger Koder of Jesus Washing Peter’s feet (above), for in the painting the face of Jesus is only visible, reflected in the dirty water. I believe Jesus’ love is reflected to the world when we get ourselves dirty from helping our sisters and brothers.

This love is not Jesus’ love if it is laced with judgement and conditions. I knew a man who was homeless, with severe alcohol problems who would say he could tell the difference between someone who was just a church-goer and those who were committed Christians – and what was that difference – the former might put their hand in their pocket and give him something (with the strict instruction of course not to spend it on drink!) but the Christian would give him time to chat and befriend him. Behind all the condemnation he must have had for his condition, was a man who had been an accountant, driving one day with his family, the car stalled and when he got out to look under the engine, the car burst into flames and he watched his wife and children…… Who but God knows the stories behind another’s eyes?

This is not Jesus’ love when we go about so busy helping others, and it may even be called God’s work and yet we neglect our dearest and nearest ones – our family and friends whom are also God’s precious gifts to us. Our motto in our family is the most precious member of the family is whoever is in need at this time. Don’t take for granted or neglect our loved ones  –  where there is Love in the home, Jesus is a member of the family too!

Rev Kevin Watson, Yorkshire Synod Moderator